A ‘Humanitarian’ is defined as ‘a person who is involved in or connected with improving people’s lives and reducing suffering’.
On World Humanitarian Day we acknowledge the work of our frontline staff, with a focus on our Multicultural Service Officers.
Around 70 Multicultural Service Officers across the country help migrant and refugee communities connect with Australian Government services. An important part of their job is to have empathy for every person they serve, regardless of their race, nationality, religion or past experiences.
Victoria is a Multicultural Service Officer in Logan who has a deep passion for helping people.
“Many stories have touched my heart over the years,one I can remember very clearly was a lady who came from Africa,” says Victoria.
“Because of all she had suffered during a civil war in her country, she was very afraid. She didn’t trust the government or even her own community. She kept her money in a pillow cover under her bed.”
Victoria worked hard to gain the woman’s trust and was able to connect with a settlement service provider and various community organisations to get her the support she needed. “Her story inspires me because, despite all the trauma she’d been through she was able to find the strength to empower herself, learn English and build a better future.”
As a migrant herself, Victoria strongly believes not judging people at face value is an important first step in connecting with others.
“When I arrived I spoke English but I really didn’t understand what another Australian said because it was so totally different. It’s important that we treat people as they are, not for what they look like or what they speak.”
Kaled is a Multicultural Service Officer who has been with the department for almost ten years. Part of his role is to provide practical information to customers who may struggle with the fact that English is not their first language.
“For refugees and migrants, we focus on giving them options they can understand. When I do orientation programs for refugees, I show them our YouTube channel with Information in Your Language videos. That’s really empowering for people who’ve not experienced that in the past.”
For Kaled, the most rewarding part of his job is knowing that he has played a part in someone’s life journey.
“I love seeing the progress of people moving through their settlement” says Kaled.
“And when people come and say ‘Thank you, I didn’t have anything in the past, now we have a place to live and my children are educated’, it means we’ve made a real difference.”